The Path to Romance by Gina Fluharty

This month the Jane’s are talking about romance and our journey to it. We’ll be answering some key questions: How did we find romance? What’s the first romance we read? Why do we want to write in this genre?

My mom had a shelf of books I was not allowed to touch. I guess she didn’t realize she was raising a somewhat oppositional/defiant child at the time. “No” is our motivation. “Don’t” will pretty much guarantee misbehavior. The book I wanted to get my hands on was “Mandingo” by Kyle Onstott. I’d pull it out, look at the cover, rapidly thumb through the pages and shove it back into place before she caught me. I’d figured out what it was about and since I couldn’t read that book, I grabbed my library card and headed into town. I was twelve. When I asked the librarian where to find “Mandingo” the whites of her eyes fairly blinded me. But she was a lovely and diplomatic soul. Instead of shaming me or leading me to pre-mature ruin, she led me to the back room where they kept all of the Harlequin paperbacks. Nirvana. Absolute Heaven. I didn’t know where to start first. Did I want the sleek and sexy Presents or the meatier American Romance? Was I even going to like romance? (DUH!) I couldn’t decide. She let me check out four so I picked out two of each. I devoured them. Read them so fast I think I got a blister on my index finger from turning the pages so fast. The story that stuck with me—and I bought my own copy that I still have—was Twice in a Lifetime by Rebecca Flanders. I love this story. And then I went back for more. That summer I checked out six books every three days. I was a tried and true romance junkie that no rehab could cure.

It’s a pretty short hop to see why I want to write in this genre. You write what you want to read, after all.

So that’s my tiny tawdry past. What’s yours?

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About Gina Fluharty

Author of paranormal romance. Like chocolate, I like the darker side of love. It's okay, you can hold my hand as I walk you into the heart of darkness in order to show you the light inside. It's time to embrace the beast within.

Posted on April 3, 2014, in General and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. I worked in a bookstore in the mid-to-late seventies — back in the Barbara Cartland/Kathleen Woodiwiss days — and I was heavily influenced by the disdain the guy who shelved all the paperbacks showed for romance. Luckily, I’ve recovered! 🙂

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  2. I read my first romance on the way back from a month-long trip to Asian in 2000. It was a Nora Roberts. Not understanding the genre as I put the book down I told my husband, “I could have written.”

    As it turns out that was so not true. But I’ve been hooked ever since.

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  3. I was writing romance stories for myself before high school but hadn’t read any contemporaries until I had two babies and met a new neighbor, Candy Hall. She was from Georgia and all the women in her family would buy a romance or two every week with their groceries, then swap with each other so they could all read a book a day or more. But stuck in New Jersey with a toddler, Candy had to buy more for herself and had no one to swap with.
    “I like to read,” I said. I got a paper grocery bag stacked to the top full of every Harlequin/Silhouette line – and she had three more bags to share. They were so like the stories I had written for myself (but way better!) that I was shocked to realize writing romance novels could be Like A Real Job!

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  4. Fun trip down memory lane! I started with the teen romances like ‘Johnny and Jean’ which were actually pretty classy reads with lots of ‘coming of age’ character development.

    My first real romance was ‘Nurse at Barbizon’. Nurses figured heavily in Harlequins in those days. A guest left it my grandma’s house … so Jessie and I have something in common there. And if I remember right, the hero was a rich South American named–what else? Raoul. Sooo romantic. I believe the word ‘masterful’ was used more than once. I ate it up like ice cream.

    My first ‘big’ romance was an Amanda Quick. Thought I died and went to heaven right there in the Missoula County Library. When I ran out of her historicals, I was very sad. But then I discovered she also wrote contemporary and sci fi romance, and thus history was made as I tried writing my own (badly).

    Luckily I found RWA in the form of the Rose City Romance Writers and learned how to write romance in at least a salable fashion.

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  5. It was sooo convenient how Harlequins were the perfect size for illicit pre-teen reading: small, fast, easy to hide 🙂 Yay, Harlequin, for introducing us to romance!

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  6. I was never forgot the day I found a box of my Grandma’s harlequin romance novels in her closet. I wish I had known when she was still alive, we had so much in common and I would have loved to talk to her about her romance books.

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  7. My first introduction was also from my mother’s bookshelf. It was Victoria Holt’s, Mistress of Mellyn. I went on to read all kinds of gothic novels with governesses in big mansions with mysterious happenings. Handsome rich and needy men tneeded the help of the plain jane, poor, but always smart ,woman to make their lives whole and their mansions work properly. Form the age of 14, I pictured myself being a governess to a rich man and falling in love. Never happened. Instead, I write romances about wounded men and women and how together they find ways to become whole.

    As for all those mysterious happenings, they are embedded in my romantic suspense and my YA fantasies. The world, and love, is a mysterious place.

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  8. My reading list has always been eclectic and scattered when it comes to genres, or even fiction vs. nonfiction. But I always come back to the human connection, between the characters in the story, and between the characters and me. And no genre does that better than romance. ❤

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    • I love it when romance comes into play in every genre. Love is necessary! You can scare the hell out of me and I’ll love it. But I’ll love it and read it over and over if the hero had arms to run in to.

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